How do You Know When its Time to Stop Snowboarding?

Time to grow up and stop snowboarding

JACKSON, WYO – Sliding around on snow is a great activity for anyone under 18 years of age, for the rest of us, it may be worse than any drug imaginable. And here’s why or at least some of the reasons why I need to grow up:

I got introduced to snowboarding around the age of 14, thanks to my mom paying the way on our annual ski trips. To be honest, we really couldn’t afford to be going to a destination ski resort, however credit cards did wonders and getting out of Los Angeles for a few days was surely refreshing to my mom’s soul.

Planting seeds

Unbeknownst to her and everyone around us my mom and other liked minded parents stated planting seeds that would germinate for over 2 decades, at least in my case.

So when I was old enough to move away, I knew I wanted to live in a ski town. Sound familiar? I clearly remember seeing all the happy young adults working what looked like fun jobs, they had unique accents and I literally couldn’t wait to live in a ski town and be just like them.

And then I become a local and realized everyone was working 2 jobs just to get by. I moved to the mountains to snowboard, get drunk and dive head first into the Apre ski scene that looks so sexy to visitors. I quickly realized that moving to ski town meant spending more time working than playing.

I was been fooled.

Well, it didn’t take long for the alcoholic in me to become a pro, move to a ski town and you will learn how to hold your liquor. Shit, we drink at altitude, and most of us are athletes so operating hung over or drunk for that matter became the norm. As did spending too much money on bar tabs and shitty apre ski food. It’s what we were taught to do from a young age, sorry mom.

But this article isn’t about being a ski town drunk, I already covered that a few months back. What this article is supposed to do is be an eye opener for anyone reading this. Maybe a wake-up call perhaps. I surely just had my ah-ha moment.

I may never snowboard again, and I am ok with that. Are you?

Breaking through the surface

So what happened? Well, when you stress about money, bills and did I mention money it starts to become hard to say yeah let’s go snowboard. That will make everything better right?

No, it won’t!

If anything the time you spend snowboarding could be spent working. Starting a business, volunteering or doing just about anything that’s not as self-centered as snowboarding.

The only reason I got introduced to this sport and probably you too is that my mom worked her ass off. She would leave the house every day around 6:30 am and return 12 hours later. This went on for decades and decades and decades. I wish I had 1/10th her work ethic.

And it wasn’t just an M-F gig, weekends especially Sundays were work from home days. A vacation you say, my mom was ALWAYS still working. It became a joke can you really not pay attention to work for a couple days? Sure if you never want to take these trips…

If you’re reading this and you’ve ever had a ski pass it would be safe to say you grew up in a middle-class household. Do you consider yourself middle class these days? When lift tickets start costing $100+ it’s not designed for the working class anymore.

Personally, I made less than $18,000 last year between my full-time job as editor of the Mountain Weekly News and 30 hours a week unclogging toilets / doing maintenance throughout the summer. It’s not poverty levels, but its damn close.

Odds are there’s not a single person in the country that makes under 20k a year that’s thinking hey let’s go snowboarding. That is unless you live in a ski town and have drunk the punch.

Has the flower bloomed?

So after 15 years of living in a ski town what do I have. Aside from some major injuries and surgeries, (which all came from snowboarding) I did manage to start my own business, I realized that being an addicted to alcohol was more of a social thing than a physical addiction for me. Most importantly though, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t afford to live in any town in this country that has a ski resort, real estate has been the name of the game as of late and I have always been priced out. Even as a renter it’s been a struggle.

30 years ago you could have pulled it off, 20 years ago it was doable, 10 years ago it was tough, these days I really wonder how anyone can be a ski bum aside from getting financial assistance from a parent. Ski bumming seems to be dead.

At 35 years old I finally realized how much of my life has been taken away due to snowboarding. Due to my addiction to powder days, face shots and serenity.

To my friends in the industry, are you surprised by this? Last time I checked my landlord didn’t accept high fives and snowboards in trade for rent, I doubt yours do either…

Will I ever strap into a snowboard again? TBD but it surely won’t happen until I have some money in the bank.

At 35 years old I’m finally looking forward to growing up and getting my life together. Or maybe it’s just my ski bum depression rearing its ugly head.

To be continued…

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About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. When not on a board, Mike worked for Snowboarder and later oversaw TGR's online publication. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief.

6 Comments on "How do You Know When its Time to Stop Snowboarding?"

  1. Hey Mike,

    Sorry to hear about how you moved away from snowboarding. I just hope you find happiness no matter what. I always wondered the same thing, I’m still young (23) but I was introduced to snowboarding much later than you, within a few years my progress has been amazing and I never plan to stop. I’ve spent my life so far in school and I’ll be graduating and going into health care so for me money and location are never going to be a problem (which is nice I guess). But I gotta agree even I know I have to stop at some point maybe not as early as yourself. I for sure plan on getting my kids onto a board as soon as they can stand as well as getting them into the back country. But I know at some point wanting to open my own business etc will all come in and I’ll be in the same boat as you. No idea when but when I do, hopefully I can be okay with it.

  2. It ain’t easy being a ski bum these days, but look at the alternative. Would you be happier sitting in traffic for 3+ hours a day, working some soul-sucking job that pays enough for you to own a house in a place you can’t wait to get away from on those special weekends when you actually have the time, only to be joined by several hundred thousand of your closest friends who have the same idea? At least you could reminisce about your ski ski bum days while stuck on the freeway and banging your head on the steering wheel of your brand new Audi.

  3. I agree that the logistics of making a “life” (buying a house, finding a career, etc.) in a ski town have gotten quite difficult because tourism pumps so much money into these small communities and creates a desire for more people to spend huge amounts of money to live in these special places. I have a “real job” (that I spent money going to college for) and still struggle to see how I can ever afford to live in Jackson much longer.
    The demographic of a ski town (specifically Jackson) seems to be a continuation of college (partying, part time jobs, off-seasons, trying to be “unique & special”, etc.). Some of these residents are still living off another’s dime (usually their parents) so they can afford this lifestyle, just like in college.
    In a nutshell, any healthy, outdoor activity that sparks someones interest is wonderful. The time spent to engulfing yourself in that activity to improve upon and show to others is what makes it great.

  4. Good call on not putting it off any longer. You don’t have to give it up though you just need to shift the focus a bit for a while. I’m working on a career right now and I wish I had started this school experiment 10 years ago. Being poor sucks.

  5. i’m a 30 year old who lives in a ski town, works hard in a ski town, ski’s 70+ days a season, and works towards a better future everyday. All on my own earned dime, and all just as easily as i would in any other town. You apparently just had drinking issues and couldn’t say no to going out every night. This whole article just reflects your own personal problems.

    • Mike Hardaker | March 29, 2016 at 5:51 PM | Reply

      Congrats on figuring out how to be successful in a ski town! “This whole article just reflects your own personal problems.” your saying my article, on my blog is about my own personal battles with addiction and my life as a whole. Indeed. You must be a new reader 🙂

      I shoot from the heart


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